Thursday, 29 October 2009

Trump tees off - with Pampas Grass!

 Donald's dune stabilisation solution - pampas grass
You know, the sheer brilliance and ingenuity of my hero the Great Donald Trump never ceases to amaze me. Flying in the face of the gypsies and thieves camped out on the site of what will be the Greatest Golf Course in the World, Donald has set about stabilising the useless sand dunes that harbour midges, newts and other pests that may distract the golfer on his way round God's Own Golf Course.
pampas grass - the civilised solution
But guess what he is using? Maybe I've given the game away to you gardening types who will know the answer immediately. Yes - Pampas Grass! Fantastic! Now this is highly technical work - sand dunes can move and are quite dangerous in the wrong hands. They can destroy a golf course in certain wind conditions and can even envelope tees, a fairway or even a golfer himself, so it's entirely appropriate that this problem is dealt with before the first round is played. Pampas grass is the recognised answer to this problem.
the white variety will look good on a golf course
But this is not just to do with technical issues - there is the question of style. No one will want to play on a golf course that looks like a stretch of old sand dunes with bits of fields in between so Donald and his servile architect Gareth Hopkins have come up with the idea of coloured Pampas Grass. This is a fantastic innovation and I must admit I'm beginning to see the value in using this guy Hopkins - if it his idea of course. Pink will bring a touch of colour too and of course it reminds me of the expensive negligee I bought my lovely wife in happier times. But pure suburban style from Donald and his team.
ideal around the tenth hole
My final word on this tremendous news for Aberdeenshire and for all the inbred loons living in old railway coaches and black houses around Menie is that soon your pockets will be bulging with cash as the trickle-down effect of Trump's goodness flows into your bank accounts. Jobs in table service, polishing shoes, washing cars and clearing drains will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. Fantastic! This is regeneration in action and a great victory for Scottish Town Planners.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Sponsorship pays off for the Scottish Planner

Scottish Planner in a bin
As my regular readers will know, I was mightily impressed with the new format for the Scottish Planner which came out in February of this year in a bi-monthly format - and in colour! For those of you who are unfortunate enough not to be qualified in town planning, the Scottish Planner - or the Journal of the RTPI in Scotland as it is subtitled - is usually an opportunity to keep up to date with the mind-dumbingly tedious gossip around the few folk who run the show in Scotland. But it also features articles by some of the greatest thinkers of our time - hardened professionals tempered by the fires of regeneration and property development.
a great article of critical importance to the world of town planning
In the current issue, the great Italian Planner Stefano Smith, Regional Director for Development and Design (Scotland and Ireland) at Halcrow Group Ltd, (what an impressive job title!) considers the next wave of business parks which will sweep over the economic landscape in the next few years, destroying small businesses and carving away at outmoded neighbourhoods like a knife through butter. This is a spanking article and a must-read in which planning in Dubai is mentioned - more than once! Halcrow really know what they are doing here and I'm filled with admiration for their deep dynamic thinking, their appreciation of transcendent themes and their blinding strategic innovation. I can't wait to see some real evidence of this on the ground, particularly in some of Scotland's smaller towns which have been waiting to be swept away like this for many years.
great sponsorship has changed the magazine
Now there is another important point here worth mentioning. Halcrow are sponsors of the Scottish Planner with Biggart Baillie LLP and together they have published an article in each of the issues since the new format was announced - three from Halcrow and two from Biggart Baillie. Some of my colleagues think this is corrupt and shameful - they are entitled to their opinion. Well my message to them is, "Let's have more please!" More news about business parks and less gossip and tittle-tattle will suit me fine. It is great that Halcrow have seized the moment and found a way to get their abundant skills across to the great unwashed of local council planners before other less worthy firms get a look-in. A great piece of work and my hearty congratulations to all those involved in this.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Glasgow Harbour leaves London reeling

an old sailing boat is used to bring shoppers from the Costa Clyde resorts
No doubt you are all agog this week with the news that planning permission has been granted for a colossal £1.2bn retail and leisure development at Glasgow Harbour. To say I'm excited is of course an understatement - I am literally trembling with anticipation as I write this. Glasgow City Council has dealt London a critical blow by clearing the way for this fabulous proposal designed to make Peel Holdings and Clydeport even more incredibly rich - no bad thing considering that the quality of their existing development at Glasgow Harbour has been recognised as having changed the course of regeneration across the globe. Peel and Clydeport deserve every accolade for this outstanding project. So Glasgow will have more shopping malls than London once the doors of this beauty are open, knocking the UK capital for six in the retail Top of the Pops.

Glasgow City Council is a partner in the Glasgow Harbour project and of course has given itself permission for this development as we would expect - Wee Alex Salmond's folk just have to rubber stamp it though this will be a formality. Local retailers have predictably greeted this proposal with howls of protest but of course they will be the first to start filling up the shop units.
the brown bits are the shops
Just a few comments from my expert town planning perspective. This will be one of a new breed of retail centres where there is little or no public transport - like Braehead just across the river, it will be unique. So it's possible that the traditional city centre will become a twilight zone for an underclass of shoppers using buses, trains or the subway while normal people drive to Glasgow Harbour or Braehead - this is positive and reflects concerns about today's inclusiveness agenda and providing for minority groups. There's something for everyone in today's exciting retail offer!
the deserted Partick Station
Of course there is the subway station at Partick Cross (run by the amazing set up called SPT who I have praised before). No one is going to use that to get to Glasgow Harbour - well you can see how busy it is in the nice wee photie above. Likewise the so called Fastlink LRT system will never happen - that is just a clever invention by Clydeport to keep the planning application looking good to quiche-eating objectors, beggars and layabouts who want to derail the project. Another transport option is boats on the river and it's possible that in the future, some will sail to shop at Glasgow Harbour as the perspective below shows.
shopping by boat at Glasgow harbour
Personally I can't wait for this project to happen. It's a truly great proposal and reflects well on Glasgow City Council town planners for their vision and the breathtaking intellectual powers they have brought to bear on the Clyde's Regeneration. No wonder cities around the world are looking at Glasgow and saying, "Why didn't we do that?"

Friday, 23 October 2009

Ferry Village and Renfrew Riverside

the Clyde's space age development at Renfrew Riverside - Ferry Village in the foreground
One of the sparkling jewels in the crown of Glasgow's Clyde Waterfront regeneration is Renfrew Riverside. You can see in the wee photo above that it's like a scene from Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. Braehead Shopping Centre and the Xscape look like UFOs that have landed in a car park - or perhaps they were shot down by one of the Royal Navy's finest destroyers in the course of refitting at BAE Systems across the river in Scotstoun! Either way, Welcome to the Clyde aliens!
Braehead - you can see a guy on his mobile phoning home news of the incredible bargains
I don't need to say much about Braehead that hasn't been said already - really, one of Scotland's top shopping centres and warm congratulations to the team from Glasgow City Council for promoting this golden nugget of retail heaven which includes Ikea, Comet, PC World and even Halfords.

Now this time, retail isn't the whole story. There is a small park designed by Ian White Associates - famously the landscape architects for the SECC just up river and what a splendid job they made of laying out the tarmac around that memorable work of architectural brilliance. Ian is a big favourite of property developers who want a simple low cost solution that doesn't get in the way of the buildings or car parks - he really bends over the drawing board to accommodate the biggest developers and is very much sought after.
pure genius from Young and Gault at Ferry Village
But one of the star attractions for me is Ferry Village. The beautiful hand rendered drawing above by genius architects Young and Gault tells the whole story of untrampled loveliness envisioned for the future. This is an area around the Renfrew Ferry which once had a collection of derelict huts, ugly sheds and the like that used to be home to many small businesses and craftsman industries involved in repairing and storing boats. Doubtless there were also many scroungers and vagrants from Yoker - stowaways on the Renfrew Ferry - who had settled there in cardboard boxes, potentially spoiling the view from luxury flats.
pure luxury and style
Now with amazing foresight, the developers realised that this was undesirable in a waterfront regeneration scheme and got Clydeport (the dynamic team responsible for so much that is new and good on the Clyde) to kick them out, paving the way for some very attractive flats that will instantly appeal to the buy-to-rent market, divorced women and other people on social security. Called the Anchorage, this is a place of singular beauty and luxury - even though someone in the office said the interior looked like a bordello. The landscaping is simple and delightful as you can see below - eat your heart out Capability Brown!
 a view of the new flats with luxury low maintenance landscaping
It seems obvious to me that small businesses have no place on waterfronts of World Renown and it's ridiculous for people to kick up a fuss over their eviction. But the real twist in the tail is that having got rid of one second rate boatyard, there are now plans to have a proper marina nearby that will be exclusive and posh. That is lateral thinking and Edward de Bono himself would be proud of all the guys behind this incredibly clever and beautiful development. Isn't Scottish town planning truly magnificent?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Bathing and shopping in Aberdeen

You know, there's nothing quite like a bracing stroll along an esplanade on a windy October day and as part of the outing, being able to pop into B&Q to buy a chainsaw with which to attack that dangerous bit of woodland near your house. This unlikely combination of bucket-and-spade and DIY is one of the foundations on which the Beach Boulevard Retail Park in Aberdeen is built. Of course that isn't the only link up between beach orientated leisure and retail. Many Aberdonians like Whiskas sandwiches so it's really convenient to combine a trip to Pets at Home with an afternoon picnic on the Golden Sands of the Silver City - fantastic!

Like so many cities nowadays, Aberdeen has its Big Wheel or 'Eye' and by a amazing piece of town planning, this is located next to the retail park. So it makes sense to take a trip on the wheel to look down on the retail park and plan your shopping trip - a really thoughtful touch.

Now one of the ground-breaking innovations at this retail park is that it is below sea level as shown in the photograph below - that's the influence of our Dutch cousins across the sea - so it's good to get a touch of the continent in Aberdeen. In case of fire, the whole area can be quickly flooded.

All in all this is a wonderful environment for the 21st century bather or shopper. The unusual combination of sand and retail park must recall holidays in Las Vegas for some. For others it's a bit like Renfrew Riverside - but without the river. Who would have thought of this innovative location for a retail park? There must be some very clever planners in Aberdeen so my congratulations to them for this foresight and invention.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Inverurie goes global!

Now you might think that Inverurie is one of these dull Aberdeenshire towns where the residents are mostly inbred and have a limited vocabulary. In other words, a dump or as they might say there, a midden. Well that was once true but let me tell you that the town is really going places now! Yes, Inverurie has deepened its gene pool, burst open the green belt and let retail loose on the once green fields of Oldmeldrum Road - some people living there even speak English instead of grunting!

Although there is a glittering representation of top quality companies on display including Lidl, Argos and Homebase the real star in the heaven of the Inverurie Retail Park is Halfords. Unbelievable that such a quality store should come to such a backward area and completely reverse its fortunes but there you are - the magic world of Scottish property development is full of surprises. And it looks as though the very-much-in-love couple in the photo below are really thrilled too.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the page though, Tesco is just across the railway line from Halfords. This means of course that Inverurie town centre is now completely derelict - at least in terms of proper shops - although there will always be the coffee shops, candle and card shops run and frequented by frustrated middle class housewives that we've come to expect in second rate towns and villages like this - but they will be cleared out eventually.

So congratulations to Halfords, Inverurie Retail Park and those Masters of Gyproc, Stewart Milne Construction for this far sighted development which has completely turned the town around.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The best of contemporary Scottish house design!

steeped in the Scottish Tradition
You know, it's a beautiful crisp night here in Auchterness and I wouldn't be surprised if the temperature dropped to freezing point later on. It's got me thinking about winter again and the torture of Xmas alone with my thoughts during these long nights. Fortunately I have in my hands, the latest issue of Building Scotland. I've referred to this before in glowing terms and if anything, this highly professional and cutting edge magazine seems more lustrous and packed with fantastic articles than ever. The shiny cover beckons me towards a feast of avant-guard design like the fabulous house shown above.

Recalling the best of traditional Scottish Building combined with the latest ideas in precision timber frame construction this is a cracker. It will be at home in any Scottish landscape or even in a town, where it will seemlessly blend with older buildings - particularly in Conservation Areas or adjacent to Listed Buildings. One note of warning though - council planners may interfere with the purity of the design of this jewel of architecture during the planning application process and this may result in the building being changed for the worse. I've seen it happen many times. For example they may ask for the colour of brick to be changed or for the intricate carved timber work around the eaves to be painted a different colour. My advice is to defy them.
utterly fabulous
Here's another one - unbelievably stylish. I especially like the red steps up to the front door and the pointed trees in the front garden - the neighbours will be green with envy. Anyway, without a chimney in sight, this is about as modern as it gets in Scotland today. My hearty congratulations to the team who created these masterpieces of contemporary design and to Building Scotland for daring to publish such cutting edge material.

Now I will return to writing my comprehensive appreciations of the remaining developments which will make up my end of year list, which I'm calling the Auchterness Oscars. These will include Renfrew Riverside especially the gem they call Ferry Village, the Beach Boulevard Retail Park in Aberdeen and....wait for it.... Halfords at Inverurie. Mouthwatering.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Gretna's Gorgeous Factory Outlet

a masterpiece of contemporary design with neatly clipped hedges
I'm sneaking some time out today from my hectic routine to bring you this exciting review of the Gretna Factory Outlet. You know, the first time I saw this magnificent creation I was on a bus down to London and I almost choked on my sandwich when I saw it flash by. Right beside the motorway shouting out, "Come and buy!", the sheer bravado of it all had me in meltdown. My hand is almost shaking with excitement as I write these words.

First of all let's deal with the location. On the actual border between our fair land and England it's the first thing you see of Scotland when you come up here from down there - retail bargains! It's what we planners call a gateway feature - that's one box ticked. Secondly it's a little bit special - this time we're looking at a development that is steeped in the Scottish tradition - yes pitched roofs with different colours of tile and buildings that look like old farm steadings housing over 50 stores as well as five cafes. Over 40 of these stores are shoe shops so it's a great place for pedestrians. That's 125,000 sqft of sumptuous leather retail. I usually prefer modern design but this is dead right for Gretna - like a piece of old Fife transported to the Border so a big tick there for conservation. It's also very popular with dogs and below you can see some of the top quality finishes and materials that have been used throughout.
Gretna is enduringly popular with dogs
Those of you familiar with the history of Gretna will know that women have always played centre stage in the industries of the town - originally in munitions factories while the men were away at the war. Today, if you are part of a pre-booked coach group you can enjoy a meet-and-greet service from beautiful young maidens dressed in tartan mini-skirts. This is sophisticated and tasteful, totally Scottish and a real boost for the modern industries of the town which include tanning shops, massage parlours and of course the wedding scene at the Old Blacksmith's Shop. Oh and one thing you might not know is that a car park is a virility symbol in the dynamic world of Scottish property development - it's size that matters - and you might say that Gretna is deeply fecund with its huge expanse of asphalt and neatly clipped hedges.
aerial view of Gretna Factory Outlet - great!
I was once given a Harris Tweed cap which a friend had bought for me in Gretna. My lovely young wife flushed it down the toilet after one of our rows but I recall that it was very stylish. Perhaps I'll get a chance to go there myself one day and replace it.

This is a work of profound ability, readily accessible by public transport too. For example if you left Inverness by train at 09:18 in the morning you could be in Gretna by 15:10 in the afternoon. Enough time to buy a pair of shoes and rejoice with a mug of soup. Yes, with so many boxes ticked this is a giant of the Scottish town planning scene and I commend it to you all.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The wonder of Stenhousemuir!

the great masterplan!
You know, I'm sick to the pit of my stomach. I heard today from a friend of mine working in economic development for a Council in the central belt that Asda have successfully transformed the town centre of Stenhousemuir, casting aside years of traditional retailing and historic street pattern, building a huge car park and erecting an absolutely fabulous new store. Amazing and breathtaking. I'm sickened because really, what is so special about a dump like Stenhousemuir and why did Asda do that instead of looking north to Auchterness? Stenhousemuir is a name people associate with a terrible football team in the lower echelons of the Scottish amateur leagues - hardly a hotspot for regeneration I would say.
shot from a passing aircraft
Anyway, let's have a look at the project from my expert planner's viewpoint. In the first place, I should say that this is being used as an example of good practice by Wee Alex Salmond's Scottish Government! Well, respect is due and I'm intensely jealous, but leaving that aside, you can see from the plan at the top of the page that this a stunning intervention and a real ball-breaker for the ineffectual bunch of whining shopkeepers that have kept Stenhousemuir down over the past decades. The development goes straight to the point - smashing through the old Main Street and establishing a new urban square of great wonder and style and suffused with continental atmosphere, where the oppressed people of the area can park their cars during the day, or have gang fights at night. That's part of the inclusiveness agenda I'm sure. Next, a bit of context.
the elegant parade of shops - right
Apparently there is more to this development than just Asda - there is a new park and public library (with a very unique style) and an elegant parade of new shop units next to the superstore - see above. This is all very good but people continue to whine. For example Janice King, manager of the Red Cross charity shop said: "Stenhousemuir's regeneration has hit us hard, most of the shops around us have closed down or moved and the old centre is now really quiet with very little passing trade. Since Asda opened we have seen a drastic fall in customers. People are avoiding this part of town and going straight to Asda where they can get cheap new clothes instead of walking through our doors." She obviously doesn't understand that this was the plan all along - boom boom! Another great success for 21st century retail and one in the eye for the fur-coat-and-nae-knickers charity shop brigade.

My hearty congratulations to all those involved in this outstanding project, especially to the guys from Macdonald Estates - the hardmen of the Scottish property development scene - and I should mention the previously unheard of architects too - Fouin and Bell - but I guess they just pulled the designs off the shelf or were given them by Asda. An easy win for them. But enormous praise of course to Asda for their breathtaking vision and community concern for this historic footballing town. It's a great result for the town and better than they'll ever get on the football field.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

An emotional Sunday

my breakfast
Well I've had a terribly emotional day. First of all I celebrated my fourth follower on Twitter by having sugar in my porridge instead of salt - funny thing that. I suppose it's something the English have brought to our fair land along with curry. Anyway, with the ghastly taste still in my mouth, I put on my dungarees and marched into the garden for some hard graft - I'm determined to have at least one flower and one vegetable next year.
my garden - before
So I was working away for about two hours when I heard a familiar voice. "Grandad! Grandad!" For one moment I thought my lovely young wife had decided to come back to me and had brought the boy. Sadly it was just my brother and my son - he was taking the boy out for the day, presumably leaving my wife and her young lover to enjoy carnal pursuits at their leisure. Apparently the wee boy had said, "Let's go to see Grandad!" and my brother obliged. I burst into tears. As I said previously, I am sure they are trying to poison my relationship with the boy by suggesting that I'm too old to be his father and that lover boy is his real father. Heartbreaking.
we had lunch here
So after the boy had tired himself out running amok over my freshly dug flowerbeds and throwing lumps of earth at me we decided to go out for lunch. We went to a lovely wee caravan I know in a layby off the main road and had a greasy bacon roll each, washed down with a bottle of Irn Bru - fantastic. But then we had to say our goodbyes again. "Goodbye Grandad", he said - I felt completely crushed. But it's been a lovely sunny day here although with all this family business I'm afraid the garden has been left in a mess.
my garden - after
But with the sun going down, my mind has turned to matters in Aberdeenshire and the duplicity and cowardice of the Councillors in not granting the Great Donald Trump Compulsory Purchase Order powers to sweep the objectors from their homes. Does anyone remember the cartoons that once ran in a magazine called Leopard about a certain Councillor Swick? For those of you from foreign lands, Swick is a north east Scotland term for a cheat. Anyway, the cartoons are online now and you can see them here - you probably have to download them and print them a bit bigger.
Councillor Swick cartoon
It just shows you that there is a long tradition of snouts in the trough over there. Not that I'm suggesting for a moment that there is anything going on but it makes you think. There's no smoke without fire. I see that Tilda Swinton is in on the conspiracy too - just disgraceful - but if you want my opinion, I don't think she's a normal woman - if you know what I mean - so her views are completely worthless.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen

the existing slum gardens
You know, these community meetings are just a gossip shop and a waste of my valuable time. I've spent hours listening to people droning on about dog mess, discarded condoms and broken glass when I could have been watching Strictly Come Dancing. It just reinforced in my mind how great it is when people just do what they want and ignore the babbling pack of idle worthless peasants. Which brings me to a current hero of mine - Sir Ian Wood!
Sir Ian Wood
Now Sir Ian used to be my boss years ago in SE and even then I thought he was a mover and shaker - a Puppet Master for the hordes of creeps that inhabit the higher echelons of public service in Scotland. Sir Ian is now a multi-millionaire - maybe more - and while he is not as good looking as the Great Donald Trump, he knows a thing or two about town planning and is a true Renaissance Man for Scotland. It takes one to know one!

So Sir Ian has come up with his own plan to fill in the hole that is known as Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen. I remember he wanted to do that years ago so now he has kindly provided a cool £50 million or so to backfill the whole issue thereby putting an end to the ill-informed debate about park or arts centre or whatever. One of the stupid alternative proposals is shown below (notice they show a railway in the foreground - I thought we were trying to get rid of these and replace them with good roads).
the stupid alternative
So now we can just get on with it. A hole is a hole - simple - fill it in. You would do the same with a hole in the road. You have to admire that no nonsense approach to town planning. I was across in Aberdeen recently and have to agree that Union Terrace Gardens is unsafe, dark, sloping and green - that's my expert analysis from a town planning perspective.
the dream scheme
Anyway he hired Halliday Fraser Munro who we know can really bash out a fuss free solution to anything - petrol filling stations, lock-up garages, you name it. What a job they have done - it's clean and flat and simple. Absolutely breathtaking in its bold conception, it's bigger than Trafalgar Square in London or St Mark's in Venice! Yes! Now Aberdeen can be a world city. It's better than wasting your time with community groups!

You see, you can always trust rich people to have the best ideas and to pick the best firms of designers to do their bidding.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Britney and the Showcase Leisure Park

Many of my more intellectual readers will be aware of the symbiotic relationship between the property development industry, planning, leisure and sex. Well I don't like to bring it up as this is a respectable blog rather than a smutty alleyway of the wide world web. But remember that great story from 2004 when the lovely Britney was doing her Toxic Tour? Exactly. She hired all 28 lanes of the Hollywood Bowl at the Showcase Leisure Park near Coatbridge for herself and friends while performing two sell-out shows at the SECC in Glasgow. The point is that planning and sex had come together at the Showcase Leisure Park - which has never looked back! Even today, many beautiful young maidens from Coatbridge are called Britney after that momentous event.

Let's have a look at the place - looks great doesn't it? You know, the whole point of a fantastic paradise like this is that you can drive there with the window down, cruise round the car park with your arm hanging nonchalantly out of the window and yes, you can imagine you are in California. Designed by Walt Disney himself, Frankie and Benny's, the Showcase Cinema itself and even a Big Mac with a wifi hotspot are all there - mouthwatering. It's a great day out for the whole family of course.

When I was there, the car parks looked very special with nice twinkling green decorations, a bit like broken glass. Also there must have been a recent violent hailstorm as a number of car windows had been broken and the Police were in attendance. Good to know that safety and security are being taken care of there.

Yes, make no mistake. This is a top-notch premier development located in one of Scotland's greatest ever growth corridors - the M8 - just along the road from Eurocentral and the Bellshill Hilton, forming a sort of triangle of excellence which can probably be seen from outer space. I'll close now and prepare myself for a busy weekend of community meetings and gardening but I will be back soon with more exciting news and first class projects like this from the Scottish town planning scene.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Leith Docks - an epicentre of dynamic growth!

I'm deeply privileged today to write a review of one of Scotland's greatest success stories of visionary planning and property development. It's a veritable dripping roast of invention and superlatives, truly the eastern equivalent of Glasgow Harbour in every way. The team that did the astonishing breakthrough thinking on this one are Forth Ports (who kindly donated the land), Turkey Associates and RMJM, they of the recent heroic failure at Custom House Quay in Glasgow. One word - wow!

You know, it's sometimes hard to take in the sheer comprehensive brilliance of some projects - the diamond sharp intellectual endeavour, the world class parametric design work not to mention the streetwise nous that can turn a derelict area into a thriving community of beautiful houses, shops and parks all wrapped up into one of the finest urban development frameworks you will see around Edinburgh since Wester Hailes was but a twinkle in a planner's eye. Recently a member of the Prince's Foundation described it as being, 'as good as Sierra Leone'. That's praise indeed coming from a world traveller and member of the Royal Family - a total pat on the back for Forth Ports and for Turkey Associates, a real feather in their cap.

But the dynamic team didn't have it all their own way. They were beset by hippies and ne'er-do-wells throughout the course of the work and even in the completed state that you see in the images above, organisations like JUMP are proposing a 'contra-plan' for the area. You can see this below and quite frankly, anyone who still uses coloured pencils these days is hopelessly off message.

This is typical of Scotland today and frankly there is every possibility that the sort of people who propose alternatives to the brilliant schemes of established and respected figures in the Edinburgh scene and elsewhere could usher in a new dark age for the country if their activities go unchecked. An age in which developments like Leith Docks, Glasgow Harbour, Eurocentral and the Bellshill Hilton simply won't happen. A worrying prospect for the nation so Alex Salmond, please take note.

Scotland - Open for Business!

Well! No sooner had the ink dried on my emotional analysis of the mothballed dream scheme for Custom House Quay in Glasgow than a rescue plan was announced. 3DReid, those masters of pragmatism whose no nonsense commercial solutions march across our land, have stepped up to the plate to design a revised proposal for the embattled City Council. I can't wait to see the first impressions of this exciting and worthwhile project aimed at building where no one has built before! But there is more!

My attention was drawn yesterday to a proposal to build a £14,000/night billion pound resort at Kinloch Rannoch in Perthshire. Members of the exclusive club would be expected to have minimum liquid assets of £100 million. They would pay £2million up front to join, with annual dues of £500,000. A stay at the luxury hotel would start at £6,000 per person per night, rising to £14,000 for the best rooms. That will certainly keep the local riff-raff at bay - that's one in the eye too for the conservation lobby who are trying to preserve derelict stretches of old woodland scheduled for long overdue golf courses. Now while this fills me with almost unspeakable pleasure, in my expert opinion there are two flaws in the proposal - first of all, they've employed architects whose name I can't remember instead of someone good like 3DReid or Archial. Secondly, and this is where the architect's lack of vision really shows, they should have knocked down the adjoining village while they were at it as it is a well known dump of a place full of do-gooders and natives - ie troublemakers.

Anyway, this mouth-watering treat, together with the Trump development, Custom House Quay and the recent television documentary about Harris Tweed, demonstrate that Scotland and Auchterness are climbing the curve of success! Of course part of this means that amenity societies, local council planners, do-gooders and hippies just have to shut up and stop trying to oppose change and acknowledge that Scotland is Open For Business!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The tragedy of Custom House Quay

look no cars!
I was almost reduced to tears this morning when I read that the Custom House Quay development in Glasgow had been mothballed. This is a major setback for Glasgow in its efforts to make the Clyde the envy of the world although with Glasgow Harbour, Specific Quay, Braehead Shopping Centre (big tick there) and the City Inn Hotel it is already on a par with Paris, Hamburg or Copenhagen. Still by the time I finished my cornflakes I felt a bit better as my mind analysed the project from an expert planner's perspective.

Now I haven't time to write a full appreciation of this but RMJM, the geniuses who came up with this fabulous proposal, have done an amazing job. Looking at the top picture, you actually can't see the river at all - what a great idea considering so many people always say what an uninspiring stretch of water it is. Another thing - the cars have almost disappeared and that's an amazing achievement - isn't it!
Look at this second picture and you will see how well the new architecture provides a backdrop to this new plaza with all those toffs and fancy looking folk strutting their stuff - not the Glasgow I remember but I can live with it. And once again, no cars or river views which is great though I don't understand why they kept that old building crumbling away in the background.
This third picture shows how the new development has magically brought an amazing number of boats right up the river to the city centre - canal barges too! Fantastic considering that the river is currently barely navigable. But really the main thing is the stupendous design of these towers. What a great way to show them off - in a line along the river front - a brilliant idea!

It's a tragedy that this has been mothballed due to an Australian going bankrupt. There is never a good time to go bankrupt and I'm sure his wife and family are very disappointed. Let's hope that the heart of this great development can live on in another body so three cheers for RMJM and their brilliant crew of designers!